Angels 9, Athletics 5

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The Los Angeles Angels didn’t care who was catching— not even someone with Jason Kendall’s credentials. They were going to run whenever they got the chance.

The Angels stole five bases against the three-time All-Star on Saturday night in a 9-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics. Vladimir Guerrero and Chone Figgins each drove in two runs and stole a base for the AL West champions, who led the majors with 143 steals last season.

“Kendall’s a good defensive catcher, so that’s a credit to our team,” Angels starting pitcher Paul Byrd said. “We can beat you many different ways.”

All five stolen bases came in the first five innings—two of which preceded run-scoring hits during the Angels’ six-run fifth. Jeff DaVanon led the way with two steals. Even 40-year-old Steve Finley got into the act with his third of the season in as many attempts.

“We had a lot of runners on base. And when you get guys on who can run, you can make things happen,” Figgins said. “We’re an aggressive team. And when we make things happen, we’re at our best.”

Kendall, coming back from his first day off, has thrown out three of 20 runners trying to steal. Last season with Pittsburgh, he was 31-for-96 in that department, the third-best percentage in the majors.

“That’s aggressive baseball, and that’s their style,” Kendall said. “It’s just one of those things. I got myself rushed a couple of times. But I needed to make better throws. That’s the bottom line.”

Rookie Jake Woods (1-0) recorded his first major league win in relief of Byrd, getting the final out of the fifth inning and the first two outs of the sixth while giving up one hit. Esteban Yan and Brendan Donnelly held Oakland to one hit the rest of the way.

The Athletics erased a 3-0 deficit with five runs in the fifth, but the Angels answered right back with six in the bottom half.

Figgins, Guerrero and rookie Dallas McPherson helped fuel the rally with RBI singles, and Finley hit a sacrifice fly that put the Angels ahead to stay. Two more runs came in when slumping left fielder Charles Thomas ran back to the warning track at full speed and dropped Josh Paul’s two-out drive for an error.

The Angels opened the scoring in the third with RBI singles by Darin Erstad and Figgins, and a run-scoring double by Guerrero.

In the Oakland fifth, Bobby Kielty ended a season-opening 1-for-17 slump with a drive over the 18-foot wall in right-center after a leadoff walk to Scott Hatteberg and a walk to Mark Ellis.

Marco Scutaro singled, and one out later Kendall doubled home the go-ahead run with two outs. Eric Chavez made it 5-3 with an RBI single—his first hit with runners in scoring position after starting the season 0-for-17 in that department.

“There’s really not much to say about it. I’ve had a bad start,” said Chavez, who came into this season hitting .288 with men in scoring position. “I haven’t been hitting, period. I just have to keep swinging and get out of this slump. Hopefully I’ll hit .900 the way of the way.”

Byrd, who retired 12 of his first 13 batters, was charged with five runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings.

“I just made some poor pitches,” Byrd said. “I left two changeups out over the plate, and there’s no excuse for that. I’m super-disappointed with my performance, but I’m very happy that my teammates picked me up. I will have to return the favor soon and pick them up.”

Thomas was 0-for-2 before he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He is 0-for-23, the second-worst start by an Athletics player since the team relocated from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968. Joe Wallis began his final big league season 0-for-27 in 1979 and was 11-for-78 overall that year.

Oakland starter Dan Haren (1-2) was charged with eight runs—seven earned— and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings.

Notes

After the game, the Angels optioned RHP Chris Bootcheck to Triple-A Salt Lake and activated RHP Kelvim Escobar, who will start Sunday night, from the 15-day DL. … Kendall has not hit a home run in 286 at-bats spanning 73 games. His last one was on July 27, 2004, against Byrd when the right-hander was pitching for Atlanta. … Guerrero, Finley and Orlando Cabrera were the only hitters on the Angels’ roster who had faced Haren before. … Garret Anderson, who entered Saturday batting .289, is trying to become the second player in the Angels’ 45-year history with a .300 average and at least 300 at-bats in four consecutive seasons. Hall of Famer Rod Carew did it in each of his first five years with the club. The only other Angels to hit .300 in back-to-back seasons were Chili Davis and Juan Beniquez.

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